I am writing in support of Mr. Socrate Safo, a pioneer of the commercial movie industry in Ghana. I am an Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Film Studies at Texas A&M University, USA, and I have known Mr. Safo for over sixteen years. We met in 1999, when I was a Fulbright researcher in Ghana completing research for a dissertation on Ghana’s video industry. (That research provided the groundwork for years of research and writing, including most recently the publication of a book, African Video Movies and Global Desires: A Ghanaian History, Ohio University Press, 2013.) Mr. Safo has been an invaluable source of information and support over the years, and given my field of research, I feel I am well qualified to comment on his credentials.
When he was only nineteen years old, Mr. Safo made his first movie, Unconditional Love (1989). He was among a small group of entrepreneurs who exploited easy-to-use video technology to develop a local, commercial movie industry in Ghana. These were individuals detached from networks of state-sponsored and official cultural production, and who had no professional training in film or video production, but abundant creative drive and ambition. From these grassroots and amateur beginnings, an independent and prolific industry has taken shape in Ghana. Mr. Safo was at the forefront of the industry’s genesis and has been crucial to its growth. He has made over one hundred movies; his company, Movie Africa productions is among the most successful production outlets in the history of the industry. He has been a writer, a producer, and director of movies as well as an industry leader. As a founding member of the Film and Video Producers Association of Ghana and later the Association’s PRO, Mr. Safo has proven himself adept at working with stakeholders in the public and private sectors and at being an advocate for Ghanaian producers.
Over the years, Mr. Safo has gained considerable professional skills in various capacities and has travelled extensively to participate in cultural and professional events, enhancing his already unrivaled practical experience in video production and in the commercial aspects of the video industry in Ghana.
In 2000, he was selected to complete a media course with Radio Netherlands. In 2007 in Germany, he was invited by the Berlin Cultural Department to conduct several video production workshops. That same year, I arranged for his participation in a conference on African film and video at the University of Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA.
On this trip, he spoke about his experience as a video-film maker in Ghana at several universities including Long Island University, Columbia University, the University of St. Thomas, the University of Minnesota, and Michigan State University. In 2009, he represented Ghana at the Pan African cultural festival in Algeria. These experiences have also provided him with a global perspective that certainly will serve Ghana well as it seeks to grow its own movie industries.
Mr. Safo’s experience and deep historical knowledge of Ghanaian movies and media, including television and radio, uniquely qualify him. Perhaps as important, he understands the complex networks of production and distribution that now spread from Accra to Kumasi and connect Ghanaian movies to Nollywood and other parts of Africa. He is keenly aware of the unique challenges facing producers in Ghana in a globalized and digital media environment.
For all of these reasons, I give Mr. Safo my highest recommendation. I can think of no other individual who knows as well, or is as passionate about Ghanaian movies and media.
Carmela Garritano, PhD
Africana Studies and Film Studies
Texas A&M University.